To be or not to be catalan doesn’t depend on your blood, race, sex, religion or the language you speak. Catalonia is a country of opportunities and immigration. For this reason the citizens of the catalan territory are plurals with all the type of ethnics.
Thanks to the integrative and hospitable character of the catalans all these immigrants have added something of their culture to the Catalan society which made it more rich and divers.
The official languages are catalan and spanish but nowodays there are 271 spoken languages in the country.
Between 2009 and 2010, 127.807 adult students did a catalan course, 66% of them were foreginers. Comparing it with the number of students of 2005-2006 almost 50.000 people more did the catalan language course in 2009-2010 and according to data from the Survey of Language Use in 2008, 35% of the foregin population living in Catalonia declares to have knowledge of catalan language, despite of the short time of settlement in the terrotiry of the majority of this population. It means that these years of great influx of immigrants, hundred of thousands of people have learned catalan without having any prior knowledge.
Most of the catalan traditions has ancient origin. Some of them are common in the whole Catalan society meanwhile others are relevant only to a particular location. Generally, locals welcome outsiders to share with them in their celebration. You can find several celebrations during the whole year.
We have to mention the correfocs, in which “devils” play with fire close the onlookers, is one of the most striking of the Catalan festive events. The devils are not considered the incarnation of evil; they are sprightly and festive characters, dancing to the sound of drums and the traditional gralla, while they set off their fireworks.
One of the most popular and spectacular of the Catalan festivals are those of the colles castelleres, a human tower (up to ten people high) made by groups of enthusiasts. This tradition has its origin in the Tarragona region, which has now spread to many parts of Catalonia, and has become a real spectacle, or sport, that attracts thousands of people.
Another custom is to put up a “Pessebre” Nativity scene, which often includes the Caganer, a figurn depicted in the act of defecation. It is also traditional to hang small branches of mistletoe above the doors.
The most famous catalan tradition is celebrated all over the world, when the spring arrives, on the 23rd of April, day of Sant Jordi (St George’s Day, 23 April), in which men give roses (mostly in a deep red color) to women, and women give a book to men as a present. That day is also known as “Dia del Llibre” which became the International Bookday, coinciding with the anniversaries of the deaths of William Shakespeare, Miguel de Cervantes and Josep Pla. The streets are full of people gathering around book and flower stands.
The catalan dishes are devided in 3 groups:
- mountain and inland dishes: meat (mostly chkien), diary products, forest fruits are dominant
- coastal cuisine: fish plazs a major role, often accompanied bz rice, pasta or potatoes
- urban Cuisine: reworked the traditional dishes and international flavors adjusted
As all the cuisines of the Mediterranean, makes abundant use of fish, seafood, olive oil, bread and vegetables. The specialties are numerous and include the pa amb tomàquet (bread with tomato), which consists of bread, sometimes toasted, with tomato rubbed over and seasoned with olive oil and salt and usually served accompanied with any sorts of sausages (cured botifarres, fuet, iberic ham, etc.), ham or cheeses.
Concerning the main plates we have to mention the calçotada, escudella i carn d’olla, suquet de peix (fish stew) and from the numerous desserts, the Catalan cream.
Wine land, the Catalan vineyard has several Denominacions d’Origen such as Priorat, Montsant, Penedès and Empordà, and also found there a sparkling, the cava.
Catalonia is also internationally recognized for its high cuisine, including restaurants like El Bulli ( 3 michelin stars) or Racò de Can Fabes (3 michelin stars), who regularly dominate international rankings
There are many important figures to mention in the area of the art. Let’s just think about catalan painters internationally known: Salvador Dalí, Joan Miró and Antoni Tàpies, Pablo Picasso. The creaton of the movement of cubism also belongs to Calatan artists.
In the field of painting we have to remark other important painters like Ramon Casas, Josep Maria Subirachs and Marià Fortuny and all the museums and foundations that collected and shows us their fantastic heritage.
The most important painting museums of Catalonia are the Teatre-Museu Dalí, Picasso Museum, Fundació Antoni Tàpies, Joan Miró Foundation, the National Art Museum of Catalonia (MNAC), the Barcelona Museum of Contemporary Art (MACBA), the Centre of Contemporary Culture of Barcelona (CCCB) and the Caixa Forum.
The other significant area is the architecture, which were developed and adapted to Catalonia different artistic styles prevalent in Europe, we can find footprints in many churches, monasteries and cathedrals, of Gothic styles and Romanesque.
There are some examples of Renaissance architecture, Baroque and Neoclassical.
Modernism (Art Nouveau) in the late nineteenth century appears as the national art. The world-renowned Catalan architects of this style are Antoni Gaudí, Lluís Domènech i Montaner and Josep Puig i Cadafalch.
The first one corresponds to the historiography chronicles of the thirteenth century and the subsequent Golden Age of the fourteenth century and by the second we mean the one which began in the nineteenth century with the cultural and political Renaixença (Renaissance) represented by writers and poets such as Jacint Verdaguer, Joan Maragall, Narcís Oller, and Àngel Guimerà. During the twentieth century were developed the avant-garde movements represented by J.V. Foix, Josep Carner, Carles Riba, and others.
During the Civil War and the Francoist period the most prominent authors were Josep Pla, Mercè Rodoreda and Salvador Espriu.
After the transition to democracy (1975–1978), literary life and the editorial market have returned to normality and literary production in Catalan is being bolstered with a number of language policies intended to protect Catalan culture. Besides the aforementioned authors, some contemporary ones are: Joan Brossa,Agustí Bartra,Manuel de Pedrolo,Pere Calder or Quim Monzó.
Actual Champion of MotoGP, the first woman to ever break 8:00 at Women’s in 800 metre freestyle, IFFHS’ World’s Best Playmaker from 2011, MVP of 2015 Eurobasket, the World’s Best Coach of 2011 have one thing in common. Marc Marquez, Mireia Belmonte, Xavi, Pau Gasol and Pep Guardiola are some of the most known Catalan sportsmen and sportswomen. The list continues with the well-known names as Puyol, Juan Carlos Navarro, Gemma Mengual, Gerard Pique, Sergio Busquets, Marc Gasol, Ricky Rubio, Pol Espargaró,…
The amount of the world class sportsmen and sports woman should not surprise you because in Catalonia more than a 50% of its population practices sport, among which swimming and cycling have most participants. There are 76 sport federations, but only 21 are officially competing at international level.
Football may not be the first most practiced, but is the most popular sport in Catalonia. There are 133 836 official players divided into 10 601 clubs. That means that in every municipality there is at least one club! Although the Catalan
Football Federation is not recognised by FIFA, on international level, Catalonia is represented via FC Barcelona. “Barça“, with 3 FIFA Club World Cup’s trophies, 5 Champions League’s trophies and 24 La Liga’s won, is, according the IFFHS, the best football club in XXI Century. But the numbers don´t mean anything to their supporters. For them, the “cules“, Barça is “more than a club“. The support of the Catalan language and identity that the club was showing, especially during the Franco’s regime, is the main reason why FCB is the most beloved club in Catalonia.
But sport is much more than a football. The Catalans are also fans of the basketball, motorcycling, water polo, swimming, handball, cycling and roller hockey. That is why at the Olympics in Rio (2016) Catalonia gave 97 sportsmen and sportswomen who won 8 of 17 Spain’s medals.